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Backwards Math Homework Question

The Latest Math Homework Clusterf*ck Proves We're Trying to Screw Up Our Kids

It seems like every other day a parent shares a homework or exam question (usually math) that can stump even the smartest of adults, let alone grade schoolers, but this latest instance feels different. See, when I saw this particular question, which asks the child to subtract 32 from a mystery number to make 10, I immediately knew it should be a 42 written in the empty box, rather than the 22 this child wrote incorrectly. But that's only because I'm 27 and know that negative numbers exist — something this 7-year-old likely hasn't learned yet — so I still don't agree with it being marked wrong.

As the child has it, 22 take away 32 would have an answer of -10, but because the "10 =" was on the left side, and we read from left to right in most countries (this is from the UK, where yes, left to right is the norm), the child worked backwards because the problem appeared to be written backwards. Had it been "[empty box] - 32 = 10," I have no doubt in my mind that this kid would have filled in a 42.

Are we intentionally trying to screw kids up? I'm all for boosting logical and critical thinking, but let's allow our grade schoolers to succeed a bit while they're in the throes of learning how to read (from left to write!) and do basic math, shall we?

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